Saturday, January 4, 2014

5th Birthday Cake (snow tubing party!)

5th Birthday Cake (snow tubing party!)

This is without a doubt a blog about healthy living, and along with that comes celebrations and indulgences.  Birthdays, and children's birthdays in particular, are definitely examples of such occasions.  So my daughter's 5th birthday party, the first real party, with friends, that she has ever had, called for an unforgettable cake. Growing up, my mom always made elaborate homemade cakes for my birthday parties and I have followed in her footsteps ever since my son's first birthday over 8 years ago.  Depending on the party planned and the theme involved, I plan out something extra special, usually weeks or months in advance.  Although not bakery display worthy, my creations are always fun, inventive, delicious and full of love.

When we first asked my daughter what she wanted to do for her 5th birthday, she said a pool party, but being that she was born in December, that wasn't such a great option.  We wanted to do something different and active and since there is an amazing ski mountain less than 15 minutes from our home that offers snow tubing we suggested that idea.  She took to it immediately.  And it didn't take long for me to imagine the perfect party cake to go along.

This cake recipe is one passed down from my mom, with the exception of the whole wheat flour that I always have to add at least a little of.  It is a basic cake recipe: moist, decadent, delicious and easy to make in all shapes and sizes.  I have listed all of the different baking times depending on what shape cake you need to make as I have made it numerous ways myself.  The frosting I used this time was made purely out of cream cheese (no butter) because I wanted it as white (and snowlike) as possible.  I think the dark vanilla extract I added yellowed it a bit and maybe next time, if I ever need to emulate snow again, I will use clear almond extract instead.  I used a lot of cream cheese because I needed a lot of frosting, but only one box of confectioners sugar.  Hence the frosting was really gooey and soft and I am sure adding another 1/2 or full (1 pound) box would stiffen it up a bit, but being health conscious I figured one pound of sugar was enough.  And it worked out fine regardless.

Below are the recipes as well as step by step images of what I did to create my daughter's delicious cake.  I also included a few other cake designs I have done in the past, often using the same basic chocolate cake recipe.  So please, instead of using a box, or ordering a cake from your local store (unless it is a wonderful small business you wish to support) try this recipe the next time you are in need of a birthday cake worth celebrating.

Perfect Chocolate Cake
ready to pour into pans
2 C. organic white sugar
1 C. organic whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 C. organic white flour (or any other you prefer)
3/4 C. dark cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 organic eggs
1 C. organic milk or soy milk
1/2 C. organic canola oil
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 C. hot coffee

Heat oven to 350°F. Spray with cooking spray, and line with waxed paper, two  5 x 8 inch rectangular pans. Stir together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in coffee (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.

ONE-PAN CAKE: Grease and flour 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Heat oven to 350° F. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 35 to 40 minutes.

THREE LAYER CAKE: Grease and flour three 8-inch round baking pans. Heat oven to 350°F. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks.

BUNDT CAKE: Grease and flour 12-cup Bundt pan. Heat oven to 350°F. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 50 to 55 minutes. Cool 15 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack.

CUPCAKES: Line muffin cups (2-1/2 inches in diameter) with paper bake cups. Heat oven to 350°F. Fill cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake 22 to 25 minutes. Cool completely. Frost. About 30 cupcakes. 

baking has begun!

hot from the oven

ready to wrap up and freeze
(made these a few days ahead)

Cream Cheese Frosting

24 ounces organic light cream cheese, softened
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 pound box of confectioners sugar

In a stand mixer, or with a hand held mixer, whip together the cream cheese and the vanilla.  Slowly add in the sugar until combined fully.  Refrigerate for at least two hours to stiffen up a bit. Frost cake!

all mixed together

Now time to assemble the cake...  the frosting was still a bit too soft when I did this and I was in a rush so I couldn't put it back into the fridge after putting a thin coating of frosting over the cut edges of the cake, hence, the bits of chocolate cake that show through.  Oh well.  It is supposed to resemble a snow tubing hill for my daughter's birthday party, so perhaps it is just a slightly muddy hill with a bit of dirt showing through.  Anyway, both my kids think it looks awesome and I agree, and more importantly, I also know it will taste even better than it looks!!

stacked up and ready to frost


finished product
decorated with:
sugar crystal sprinkles
mini nonpareils
white chocolate chips
gummie (snow) tubes
LEGO kids!!

other side view

top view

back view

A few cakes from past celebrations:

my son's first birthday

my son's 3rd birthday

my son's 5th birthday

my daughter's 2nd birthday

my daughter's 3rd birthday

my son's 7th birthday
(bowling party)

my son's 8th birthday
(charity party for U.S. soldiers)

2013 Canada day party

my son's 9th birthday
(charity party for a local animal shelter)
(cat food bowl cake)

my son's 9th birthday
(dog bone cake)